Your Family Origin
Article in the Oakland Tribune from May 30, 1968. Writen by Reg Willis.


Although this family name is found today only in Ireland or among those of Irish ancestry, it is not strictly of Irish origin. The family is, however, of Celtic origin, coming to Ireland from Wales at the time of the Anglo-Norman invasion at the end of the 12th century.

The name is believed to be derived from Hugelin, a diminutive of Hugh. The Irish called the family, McUighilin or the sons of Uighilin, the Gaelic form of Hugelin.

It is generally believed that the family came into the north of Ireland among the followers of the Norman warrior, John De Courcy, who, claiming the title of Earl of Ulster, established en almost independent kingdom about 1180, in the eastern part of that ancient province.

The McQuillans settled in northern Antrim, known as the Route, where for many centuries their chiefs bore the title Prince of Dalraida. The ability of the family as warriors was recognized and employed by such great Irish families as the O'Neills and the O'Donnells.

The McQuillans also fought in the army of Edward Bruce, brother of the great King of Scots, when in 1315 he invaded Ireland to become for a short time king of that country. However, the neighboring McDonnell family proved more than a match for the McQuillans who lost a great part of their territory to these aggressive neighbors during the 16th century.

At the end of this century the family was finally dispersed during the Plantation of Ulster by English and Scottish colonists. Members of the family subsequently won distinction in the Irish Brigades of France and Spain. Today the prefix "Mc" is seldom used with the name.